How Continual Discernment of Gifts Leads to a Fullness of Vocation

November 18, 2015

Following a personal path of discovery of her own spiritual gifts through the Called and Gifted program, a new world of possibilities opened up to Shellee Leif while guiding others in small group ministry. This led to entering the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry degree program and partnering with others to deliver programming designed to provide solid formation in the Faith.

Early on, Leif was organizing and leading small faith-sharing groups and retreats made up of family, friends, and colleagues. Topics covered included discernment of spirits, prayer and breaking habits. As word spread about the groups and retreats, so did the questions of attendees, and Leif was soon faced with answering questions about her faith she did not have the answers for.

In fall of 2007, Leif entered the newly revised Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry degree program at The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. The structure of the curriculum alongside the formation elements met the need she had for personal enrichment to better serve in the ministry that was forming through her small group work.

As Leif progressed through her coursework, the clear call to a life of ministry began to crystalize. She had a clear understanding of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” The fruitfulness of ministry was growing, and she knew she wanted the formal education to support her work.

During the course Theology of God and the Human Person, Leif describes a moment of fully grasping a teaching of the faith and thinking “why wasn’t I taught this?”, everyone should know this, and feeling God’s response to her was “go tell them.”

Leif has added a component to her education by pursuing a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. This will complement her Master’s degree and allow for focused work in an area where there is demonstrated need for professionals.

A goal for the fullness of her ministry, education, and formation is to create a program and set of tools where everyone is spiritually fed continually at all stages of in their faith life. Leif has found that her undergraduate degree and career in IT with skills as a business analyst, paired with her own spiritual gifts and graduate theological formation, are the perfect match for answering a call to ministry that has developed over 20 years.